Over the last five years or so a number of cricket games have been released that have promised so much, but delivered so little. In this column I’m going to analyse the flaws in a few of the action-based cricket games that have been released and describe what needs to be done if we ever want to see a decent cricket game.

The first popular cricket game to be released was Cricket ’97 by EA Sports. C97 provided a more realistic game than its predecessor (Cricket ’96) and indicated that PC cricket games were headed in the right direction. The game featured a wide range of strokes to play while batting (eighteen in total), and offered each bowler several types of deliveries depending on their bowling style -- fast bowlers could bowl yorkers, in-swingers and out-swingers, off-cuts, leg-cuts and of course the straight ball. Spinners could bowl leg and off spin, top-spinners, flippers, arm balls and straight balls. The entire game was controlled using the num-pad and the Alt and Ctrl buttons. This made the fairly in-depth control system easy-to-use, and set the standard for cricket games to follow.

The next game to be announced was Cricket World Cup (also known as Cricket ’99, World Cup Cricket and ICC World Cricket). This game had huge potential and promised everything a fan could want in a cricket game. In fact, yours truly devoted a website to the game, which became the premier CWC fan site on the Internet and later evolved to cover all cricket games. EA Sports provided me with exclusive videos and information regarding the game and quite frankly I was chuffed when my site was consistently getting around 200 hits per day -- nothing by fully-fledged gaming site standards, but it still felt good when you consider that there is very little cricket game coverage anywhere on the Internet.

Unfortunately, once CWC was released I lost all interest in maintaining my site -- the game was actually that bad. Promises of realistic physics and gameplay were shattered; in fact, Cricket ’97 provided a better experience than this sorry-excuse for a game. You could bowl the other team out for ridiculous totals. I once had the other team only scoring seven runs in their innings. EA attempted to replace the solid batting system of Cricket ‘97 with a giant blue cone, which you pointed in the direction you wanted to hit the ball. This concept baffled me -- why replace something that was already so solid and so well received by gamers? Even the interface of CWC left the impression of a rushed product. The only plus point was the bowling control system, but that was only a small step up from Cricket ’97.

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